The New Funerals – Celebrations of Life
“He who has no time to mourn has no time to heal”    John Dunne Traditional Funerals Funerals, as we know them today, have existed for centuries.  During the Victorian Era, they became more elaborate. It was not uncommon then for families to go into debt to make sure their loved one had a proper […]

“He who has no time to mourn has no time to heal”

   John Dunne

Traditional Funerals

Funerals, as we know them today, have existed for centuries.  During the Victorian Era, they became more elaborate. It was not uncommon then for families to go into debt to make sure their loved one had a proper funeral. To do otherwise in Society’s eyes was to be viewed as a pauper.  The rituals used during this time are more or less the same as we see today.

No longer keeping up Appearances

Many families today, are not willing to spend the money on rituals that have no meaning for them. For some, they cannot afford the cost of a more traditional funeral.  Therefore they are moving away from them.  Celebrations of Life have become more popular as “keeping up appearances” is no longer a concern. The cost is one factor, but another is the flexibility that celebrations provide. Perhaps more in keeping with the families values and views.

This move away from funerals reflects Society’s attitudes towards what they represent, sad and somber events. Celebrations of Life appear more positive and upbeat. They give the mourners an opportunity to feel sadness but also experience laughter.  A time to gather in community to celebrate life.

The Funeral

The traditional funeral as we have known them are no longer the only choice families have when deciding what ceremony to have for their loved one. In fact, the word Celebration of Life is now used instead of funeral. Before dismissing the funeral just be aware it has specific elements to help us come to terms with our loss and grief. There is also the spiritual aspect of giving hope and life everlasting.  Whereas a celebration of life dwells on the past.

Three Ritual Components

With traditional funerals, there are three ritual components: the visitation, funeral service, and the burial.

Usually, a few visitation times are set up for the family to receive their community members who wish to show support and to pay their respects. The family receives many words of sympathy and condolence, and this support allows them to know they are not alone in their mourning. The deceased’s casket or cremation urn may be present, and flowers surround them. Personal items may also be displayed giving onlookers a glimpse of who the person was during their lifetime.

The funeral service is either held in a church or funeral home depending on the family’s needs. Music plays a part in the ceremony together with readings and Eulogies made by the family and close friends.

After the service, the mourners will accompany the deceased to the gravesite. An officiant will conduct a short ceremony. The casket then is lowered, with flowers or earth placed on top signalling the end of the funeral. The time now for final goodbyes. Traditional funerals have a somber, reverence about them creating space for grieving and mourning to take place.

A New Trend Emerges

A Celebration of Life was what took place at a memorial for the deceased and may take place weeks or months after their death. The mourners present then take a moment to share their memories of the person or speak about the contributions they made to Society. Today a Celebration of Life is used in conjunction with elements of the more traditional funeral. However, the casket or urn will not be present.

Celebrations of Life

Celebrations by their very name are more positive and up-lifting. They can be held anywhere either at the funeral home, restaurant, beach or somewhere that was meaningful to the person or family. These celebrations, just as the funeral may have online videos/photos of the deceased’s life, as well as flowers and personal memorabilia. Family and friends gather and remember their loved one through stories, sadness, and laughter.

Saying Goodbye

Death of a loved one is always a sad occasion, and the ritual of saying goodbye is an essential part of the grieving process. However, the very nature of a celebration conveys a happy affair, and as such, the need to grieve and mourn in these early days of mourning may not take place. It is in these moments that you allow family, friends, and community to support and share in your grief.

It is natural not to want to feel those negative emotions universal in grief. Feelings come and go, laughter replaces tears, sadness turns into joy. Emotions turn inwards when repressed, depression and anxiety can result.

The deceased may have requested you not mourn for them but instead be happy and celebrate what they meant to you. However, funerals or celebrations are for the living; the living need to grieve whether it is through the rituals of traditional burial or a mix of both. It is their routines and the familiar that is designed to support you in your grief and your mourning. You are the bereaved person, allow yourself to do so with pride not shame, as it shows you have loved.



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